This work was supported by the National Science Foundation, award number 0920762.
Biofluorescence, Spiders -- Fluorescence, Ultraviolet radiation, Predation (Biology)
Fluorescence is increasingly recognized to be widespread in nature. In particular, some arachnids fluoresce externally, and in spiders the hemolymph fluoresces. In this study, we examined the external fluorescence and the fluorophores of different sexes and life stages of the crab spider Misumena vatia (Clerk 1757), a sit-and-wait predator that feeds on insects as they visit flowers. We designed novel instrumentation to measure external fluorescence in whole specimens. We found that although males and females possess internal fluorophores with similar properties, the external expression of fluorescence varies across sexes and life stages. Spiders fluoresce brightly as immatures. Females maintain their brightness to adulthood, whereas males become increasingly dim as they mature. We suggest that external fluorescence likely contributes to visual signaling in these animals, and that it differs between the sexes as a result of differences in foraging ecology and behavior.
Brandt EE, Masta SE (2017) Females are the brighter sex: Differences in external fluorescence across sexes and life stages of a crab spider. PLoS ONE 12(5): e0175667. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0175667